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Travel in Italy

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Cape Town, South...
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Travel in Italy

Having a Eurail pass is fairly easy to use in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. You start using it in France and you need to check if you need reservations (extra charges). In Italy however, just get a reservation. We were told by train staff in Florence that we do not need a reservation from Florence to Venice. Wrong ! The intercity trains are often the more "modern", faster ones and will require a reservation. Italy is expensive in this regard, you pay extra for everything but the service is no better than elsewhere in Europe. Then the local busses in Florence: what a disaster. The bus stops are badly signed, with little help for a foreigner to find out routes and times. The Tourist office gave us a bus route map but advised we don't use it as its too confusing. Which is true. Luckily Florence is compact. Just walk, less stress and agony.

On the station in Florence we found mostly chaos, 2 or 3 staff members trying to handle hordes of people with questions, badly signed areas, no tourist info office and gypsies roaming around. Some police were escorting groups off the station but we even encountered some on the train when loading our luggage ! Train staff warned us about them. Very unsettling to say the least.

While Italy has so much to offer, their systems are chaotic, the people often unfriendly and unhelpful, rude even. The public areas are neglected and dirty, entrance fees overpriced. The entrance to the Boboli gardens is E 10, that does not include the palace. The Tuilleries gardens in Paris are far more interesting and its an open, public park.

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1. Re: Travel in Italy

Some of your remarks are valid, but " the people often unfriendly and unhelpful, rude even."??? I have not experienced this.

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
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2. Re: Travel in Italy

Nor have I. I also think the train system is easy to use and if you do your research and book in advance then you can get cheap seats, exactly as you can in most other European train systems. I'm not sure it is fair to compare the Boboli Gardens with the Tuilleries just like that. Surely entrance fees or not will depend on who owns them, who is paying for the upkeep, whether they are government subsidised etc. While entrance fees may seem a lot, believe me they are nothing compared to entrance fees here in the UK!

New York City, New...
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3. Re: Travel in Italy

Sometimes I really do think there must be two different, parallel Italys when I read stuff like this - sure, there are sometimes where a train may get delayed or something but in more than 20 trips to that magnificent country, I have not had more than a handful of chaotic or confusing moments - and, when they do happen, I just brush them off as being part of being in a foreign country where I don't know all the ins and outs or that it is just part of life - nothing every goes off 100% smoothly.

I too haven't had the rude and unfriendly experience - at all. I do always make the effort to first communicate in my broken Italian and have zero expectation that there will be special things for me as a tourist unless I am at a site; I don't see special efforts made to tourists in U.S. train stations - people who don't speak English coming from Italy are at an enormous disadvantage - but, a lot of tourists do expect people in other countries to learn their own language so they can cater to them.

There are valid points in this opinion and it is just that - an opinion. I don't find the broad brush insults to the people of the country interesting or helpful in any way, however.

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4. Re: Travel in Italy

I think it's a matter of attitude: if you are rude you'll get only rudeness, if you smile and say per piacere you'll get help everywhere in the world.

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5. Re: Travel in Italy

I wonder if the OP has ever taken a bus in her own town. I did it, or at least I tried to do it. If it wasn't for a kind local who showed me the "lonely pole" I'd probably still be down there, looking around with a puzzled face. Strangely enough I couldn't find a single information on buses/at the bus stops written in Italian.

Nevertheless South Africa is the only country in the world where I want to go again, and I'm saving my money to do it asap!

Edited: 14 October 2013, 17:18
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6. Re: Travel in Italy

That's just what I was thinking, Tabata..You can get the odd surly person having bad day anywhere in the world but I have to say that I have found Italians to be helpful and polite.

I don't think the station in Florence is any more chaotic than any other busy station, gypsies seem to be a problem wherever there are tourists. I don't know much about the buses, usually, the only one I take is the No. 7 to Fiesole, but I've never encountered any problems.

I don't think it's fair to make such sweeping generalisations about any country.

Edited: 14 October 2013, 17:27
7. Re: Travel in Italy

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